Disability Royal Commission: Restrictive Practices – Have your Say!

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Disability Royal Commission: Restrictive Practices – Have your Say!


The Disability Royal Commission (DRC) is calling for submissions on the use of restrictive practices. Restrictive practices are a key area of inquiry for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

What are Restrictive Practices?

‘Restrictive practice’ is a term used in Australia to refer to any action, approach or intervention that has the effect of limiting the rights or freedom of movement of a person. Restrictive practices are actions that stop people from moving and doing what they want.

Restrictive practices can be used across Australia, as a last resort, to prevent or protect people from harm. This may include preventing or protecting an individual or others from behaviours referred to as ‘challenging behaviours’ or ‘behaviours of concern’. Behaviours of concern are things someone does that might put themselves or others in danger.

Restrictive practices include:

  1. seclusion – when you put someone alone in a room or space and stop them from leaving. An example is locking a person in a room.
  2. using restraints – restraints are ways to stop someone from doing what they doing. They may be:
  • physical –  holding someone down so they cannot move;
  • chemical – using medicine to change a person’s behaviour;
  • mechanical – stopping someone to use equipment they need for example disconnecting the power of an electric wheelchair or taking away a communication device;
  • environmental – locking a space so nobody can get in;
  • psychosocial – telling someone over and over that they can’t do something but don’t give them a good reason.

Why can restrictive practices be harmful?

Not everyone agrees that restrictive practices keep people safe or should be used. Some people consider restrictive practices a ‘disability-specific’ form of violence. It can cause serious physical injury and psychological harm including trauma, fear, shame, anxiety, depression and loss of dignity. Restrictive practices can damage relationships and trust between a person with disability and the person using them. They can take away a person’s independence and make them feel helpless. 

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee) wants to stop the use of restrictive practices in Australia. At this stage each state and territory has its own policies and procedures.

DRC Restrictive Practices Issues Paper

The DRC recently published an issues paper that highlights various forms of restrictive practice. The purpose of this paper is to invite information and discussion from the public on the use of restrictive practices on people with disability. The Commission is interested to hear views on the laws, policies and practices guiding the use of restrictive practices, what can be done to prevent and reduce their use, and the impact they have across various stages in a person’s life.


Interchange Submission – Have Your Say

Interchange will be making a submission to assist the Royal Commision with their inquiry. We welcome any information, personal experiences, opinions you might have around restrictive practices.

Please send your responses by August 14

Responses can be in any language. The Royal Commission will translate the response to English. The issues paper is accessible on the DRC website.

We are looking forward to hearing from you and will collect your responses to send to the Disability Royal Commission. Please let us know if you have any questions. Contact Us